Tag Archives: John McCain

Still waiting for that ‘presidential’ moment

A critic or two of my blog has noted that I continue to resist referring to Donald Trump by placing the term “President” in front of his name. They don’t like it, calling me disrespectful of the man who was duly elected to the nation’s highest office.

So help me, as the Good Lord is my witness, I am waiting for that moment — or perhaps a sequence of moments — when I can feel as if the president of the United States has earned that honor from yours truly.

It hasn’t arrived. I don’t know if it will. I want it to arrive. I feel like the guy waiting for the bus or the train that’s overdue. I keep craning my neck, standing on my tiptoes, looking for all I can for some sign that the vehicle is on its way.

The same is true with Donald Trump.

As a presidential candidate, the man disgraced himself and the office he sought with behavior that is utterly beyond repugnant. The denigration of the late Sen. John McCain’s heroic service to the nation as a prisoner during the Vietnam War; the mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski’s serious neuro-muscular disability; the insults he hurled at his Republican primary foes; the hideous implication, for example, that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was complicit in President Kennedy’s murder.

Also, we had that years-long lie that Trump fomented about President Obama’s eligibility to run for and to serve as president of the United States; Trump was one of the founders of the so-called “Birther Movement.”

He brought all that, and more, into the White House when he won the 2016 election.

Since taking office, he has acted like the carnival barker he became as a candidate. His incessant Twitter messaging, the manner in which he has fired Cabinet officials and assorted high-level federal officers have contributed to the idiocy that he promotes.

There have been moments of lucidity from this president. He pitched a much-needed effort on federal sentencing reform; he struck at Syria when it gassed its citizens.

The rest of it has been not worthy of the office this individual occupies.

I want to be able to string the words “President” and “Trump” together consecutively.  I cannot do it.

Maybe one day. Something tells me I shouldn’t hold my breath.

The daughter’s voice keeps Dad in the game

John McCain is no longer among us, but his voice lives on.

You see, he produced a daughter who has become quite vigilant in protecting the late senator’s legacy. Moreover, she has become a vehement critic of the man who once had the indecency to denigrate Sen. McCain’s valiant and heroic service during the Vietnam War.

Meghan McCain clearly is her father’s daughter. She most recently said she wished that Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, had not attended the memorial service where Meghan McCain eulogized her father.

Meghan McCain speaks to Stephen Colbert

It was candidate Donald Trump who once said infamously that Sen. McCain was a “war hero only because he was captured. I like people that aren’t captured. OK?” That profoundly callous utterance drew much-deserved condemnation from many millions of Americans; I was one of them.

McCain was a Navy aviator who was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 during the Vietnam War. He was held captive for more than five years. He rejected an offer for an early release and for that he suffered more torture from his captors.

Meghan McCain has taken that particular criticism personally, as she should. Moreover, she has taken personally the continual slights and digs that the president slung at her father while he was battling the cancer that took his life this past summer.

As one American who took Donald Trump’s hideous statement about someone who fought bravely for his country I continue to embrace the passionate views expressed by the valiant warrior’s daughter. She speaks not only for herself, but for many others who believe as she does about the (lack of) character the president continues to exhibit.

Obama speaks fundamental truth about a statesman

I feel the need as the year winds down to share with you this video of Barack H. Obama eulogizing the late John S. McCain.

It’s about 19 minutes long. You need to set aside some time to watch it. I am gripped and saddened by the unspoken truth that the former president speaks about his former rival and how it reflects on the present day.

President Obama speaks at length about the differences he and Sen. McCain had between them. He speaks of when the two of them would meet in the Oval Office just to chat, “about policy . . . and about family.”

He tells us that even though the two of them held profoundly different world views that they both understood that “we are on the same team.”

I want to bring this to your attention yet again just to remind us all of what is missing in today’s discourse. The current president and many of our congressional leaders cannot seem to accept that they, too, are supposed to be on the same team. Have you heard Donald J. Trump say anything remotely like that? Or, for that matter, have you heard it from many of his foes on Capitol Hill?

The poison that has infected the current climate needs to be cleansed, wiped away. Will it disappear any time soon? Not likely.

I just hope there’s a residual sense of what Barack Obama recalled about John McCain left that it can someday be revived and returned.

What ‘policy change’ could Trump enact? Let me think

A fellow I do not know, but someone who reads this blog, has posed an interesting question that I have chosen to answer with a blog post.

He asks: (High Plains Blogger), other than stepping down, what policy could Trump enact to change your mind about him?

Fair question, right? You bet it is. It deserves an answer. So, here goes.

The president can surrender his effort to build The Wall. He can stop insisting that Mexico pay for it. He surely must know he cannot order another sovereign government to do his bidding. He should recognize that The Wall won’t solve anything. He should simply ask Congress to spend more money to enhance existing methods to curb illegal immigration.

Trump can stop demonizing refugees, implying that those seeking asylum comprise gang members, terrorists and assorted felons intent on murder, rape, human trafficking, drug dealing . . . you name it.

The president can acknowledge publicly that Russia is our No. 1 geopolitical adversary and that Russian operatives sought to influence the 2016 presidential election. Along those lines, he can demand the immediate extradition to the United States of the dozen or so Russians indicted for criminal activity related to that effort.

Trump can apologize for demonizing his foes. He can atone for the hideous insults he has hurled at the media, at members of his own Republican Party. One place to start would be to publicly apologize to the family of the late Sen. John McCain, the Republican who stood at the gates of hell while he was imprisoned during the Vietnam War. Trump’s statement that McCain was a “hero only because he was captured” was hideous in the extreme.

Donald Trump can learn to act like the president of the United States of America. He can behave with decorum and dignity. He can stop his ceaseless Twitter tirades. He can learn how to treat Cabinet officials with respect, and stop informing them of their departure through those petulant tweets.

Sure, a resignation would be my preferred solution to ending the Trump Era in modern presidential politics. Donald Trump need not exercise that option as the only way out. A close second-best option would be to see him denied the GOP nomination in 2020; absent that, for him to be defeated in the 2020 general election.

However, having laid out these notions, I do not expect the president to change his mind, enact any new executive policies that would make me or other critics better of him.

Therefore, the criticism from this forum will continue.

Time of My Life, Part 6: Kudos to NPR

There once was a time — and it wasn’t that long ago — when newspaper editors’ opinions were of some value, that others actually sought them out.

I got to play the part of a media “expert,” but I use the term loosely, as in quite loosely.

The 2008 presidential campaigned exposed me to the marvels of radio editing and the magic that radio hands perform with raw audio “copy.”

National Public Radio was looking for two newspaper editors who plied their craft in politically disparate parts of the country. They settled on Kevin Riley, editor of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News and, um, yours truly . . . me!

Dayton is a heavily unionized community in southern Ohio. In 2008 it was considered to be part of the electoral “battleground” where U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain were fighting in their quest to become the next president of the United States. Riley was editor of the paper. I don’t know the fellow.

I was editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News, deep in the heart of McCain Country. There wouldn’t be any fight in the Texas Panhandle over voters’ preferences. Our readers were solidly behind Sen. McCain.

NPR wanted to talk to the two of us to get our take on how our communities viewed the upcoming election.

I showed up at the High Plains Public Radio studio in downtown Amarillo, got comfortable sitting amid all this radio equipment. My good friend Mark Haslett — who worked for HPPR at the time — set up the studio nicely. The call came from NPR, I introduced myself to Liane Hansen, the NPR host, and to Riley, who was on the other end of the line in Dayton.

We chatted for about 30 minutes or so. I was terribly nervous, more so than Riley; at least that’s how I figured it, given that he stammered and stuttered far less than I did when he was answering questions from Hansen.

The bottom line was that Riley said the race in Ohio between Obama and McCain would be tight; meanwhile, I told NPR that McCain was likely to win the contest in the High Plains of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Kansas in a walk.

NPR boiled the interview down to about a 4-minute presentation on its “Morning Edition” broadcast on Sunday.

Here’s the most astounding part of it: NPR’s editing team made me sound much smarter and erudite than I am. They edited out the fits and starts, the “uhs” and “ums” and the occasional mangled sentence structure.

What’s more, they did it without changing any context! They broadcast my remarks completely and correctly, but without the mess I made of it.

I tell you all this to make two points: First, given the decline in print journalism and the explosive growth in other forms of media, newspaper editors no longer are deemed to be as valuable a resource as they once were; I am proud to have taken part in that discussion. Second, National Public Radio comprises geniuses who are very good at what they do . . . and I was proud to be a part of NPR’s broadcast.

Tough to bid farewell to icons

Americans have had a busy year bidding farewell to iconic public figures.

We’ve just bid adieu to our nation’s 41st president, George H.W. Bush, who in just a few days will be laid to rest next to his beloved wife, Barbara, and their first-born child, who died at age 3.

We have given President Bush the kind of sendoff he deserves, but which reportedly he would have disliked intensely. His son, Neil, noted that “Dad” would be embarrassed by “all the nice things people have said about him.” Nice things?

Good, gracious. Those “nice things” do not even begin to do justice to the service Bush 41 gave to the nation he cherished. It has been well-chronicled certainly since his death this past Friday at age 94. It was well-known already.

I have declared my belief on numerous occasions that Bush 41 was arguably the most qualified man ever to hold the office of president. As I have listened to the tributes, that belief has been shored up.

As for his wife, “Bar,” she left us in the spring. She and George H.W. Bush shared a 73-year marriage that produced six children. Five of them grew to adulthood, with their first child, Robin, dying as a toddler of leukemia.

Barbara Bush didn’t aspire to pursue a career other than being a homemaker and devoted spouse to a great man. She, however, achieved greatness, too, as first lady. She promoted literacy and always, without fail, carried herself with dignity and grace.

The tributes paid to the former first lady served as well to remind us that love truly does conquer all.

As for the third icon, he ventured to the gates of hell and returned to build a political life devoted to serving his nation.

John McCain died in August of brain cancer. He served for three decades as a U.S. senator from Arizona. And, yes, he was a bona fide, true-blue war hero. He was shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War, taken captive and held as a POW for more than five years.

Donald J. Trump sought to disparage McCain’s war service by denigrating his hero status, how he was a “hero only because he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured.” That despicable utterance stands as a testament to the complete absence of character from the man who uttered it.

McCain would serve in the House and then the Senate with distinction. He rose to the level of icon during his years in Congress. His years as a POW elevated his profile immediately upon being elected to Congress.

He ran twice for president, losing the Republican nomination in 2000 to Texas Gov. George W. Bush and then losing the 2008 election to Sen. Barack H. Obama.

All three of these individuals sought in their ways to achieve a “more perfect Union.” They are worthy of every single ounce of tribute they have received.

Sauce for the gander?

Some members of the far right wing mainstream media are just appalled, I tell ya, that individuals who seek to honor the life and service of the late President George H.W. Bush are taking pot shots at one of his successors, Donald John Trump.

How dare they say those things and besmirch the tributes to Bush 41? I think I know how those Trump critics justify the criticism.

They suggest — and I concur with them — that Donald Trump has shown no reluctance to criticize political foes while they are stricken with life-threatening illness. I am thinking specifically of the late Sen. John McCain, who died in August after battling brain cancer. Did the president let up on his anger over McCain’s “no” vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act? He did not.

He mocked a New York Times reporter’s physical disability; he took dead aim at a Gold Star family whose son died in Iraq because they criticized him at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

I believe that lies at the crux of the belief among those who choose to honor President Bush. They remember his decency, his grace, his humility, his empathy, his deep and fundamental understanding of public service; indeed, they honor his seven decades of public service, starting with his combat duty during World War II as the Navy’s youngest fighter pilot.

It is impossible to avoid drawing comparisons between President Bush and his presidential successor. What’s more, Donald Trump’s own record of disparaging others is loaded with examples of precisely the lack of the qualities that George H.W. Bush exhibited during his long and distinguished public life.

The pundits and commentators on the far right are entitled to express their outrage over the treatment that Trump is getting at this moment. Let ’em gripe.

Just remember the old “sauce for the goose and sauce for the gander” refrain. What’s good for one is certainly good for the other.

How low can POTUS go?

It is fair to wonder about the depths of Donald J. Trump’s progression as a politician. To the point: Just how low is too low and how do we know if he has hit rock bottom?

I do not believe, based on the record of low points he has acquired to date, that we have found the bottom of the abyss.

My goodness, this individual has scored so many low points it’s hard to keep score. Some highlights/lowlights:

  • He said the late U.S. Sen. John McCain was a “war hero only because he was captured” during the Vietnam War.
  • Trump denigrated a Gold Star family because of their Arab ethnicity; their son, an Army officer, died in battle in Iraq. The parents had the temerity to criticize Trump during the Democratic National Convention in 2016.
  • Trump mocked a New York Times reporter, mimicking his actions caused by a severe neuromuscular disease.
  • The candidate admitted to a TV host that he grabbed women by their genitals because of his “celebrity” status.
  • Trump has lied repeatedly, gratuitously and without any sense of shame.
  • The president just recently criticized the Special Operations Command chief — retired Admiral William McRaven, a battle-tested SEAL — for failing to kill Osama bin Laden “much sooner” than commandos did.

I know I have missed some examples, but you get the idea.

One might surmise, probably correctly, that any one or two of those incidents would doom someone’s political aspirations. Donald Trump, though, not only has survived, he has managed to fire up his political base. The roughly 38 percent of Americans who stand by their man do so because he “tells it like it is,” or he sticks it in the establishment’s eye, or speaks their language.

What’s more, this guy doesn’t care that the rest of the country finds his statements, behavior and demeanor repugnant to the high office he occupies.

How low can this guy go? I think he’s got some more space to fall before he finds the bottom of the pit.

He once said he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes.” I believe he is correct. Surely he knows better than to test that theory. Doesn’t he?

What if Obama had done any of this?

“We should be intellectually honest here at this table that if President Obama had missed Veterans Day or missed the Armistice ceremony in France for the 100th anniversary of World War I, my head would have exploded right here on this table in front of all of you.”

So said Meghan McCain, daughter of the late, great Republican U.S. senator, John McCain, and a co-host of the TV show “The View.”

I believe she speaks for a lot of Americans who are dismayed, disgusted and so very disappointed in recent actions and remarks by Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States.

So many on the right and the far right have been strangely silent regarding the president’s recent action — or inaction — in Europe. He declined to attend a ceremony in France honoring the Americans who fell during World War I, then skipped Veterans Day services at Arlington National Cemetery.

Now, to his credit, the president did express some regret at failing to show for the Arlington cemetery event. That doesn’t excuse what he declined to do in the moment.

Couple all of that with what he has said in recent days about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the disparaging he has leveled at the Navy admiral, William McRaven, who coordinated the May 2011 assault and you have even more reason for “heads to explode.”

They aren’t. Except for Meghan McCain, a self-described political conservative.

Yes, just try to imagine the reaction had all of this come from a liberal Democrat. It is pointless to suggest how progressives, such as yours truly, would react had any of this occurred on Barack Obama’s watch. Thankfully, I don’t recall it ever happening prior to Donald Trump becoming president.

I do believe Meghan McCain’s assertion about her own noggin “exploding” on national TV.

Arizona’s McSally loses, concedes, all is well and good

They’re fussin’ and fightin’ in Florida and Georgia. A Democratic candidate for Florida governor concedes, then takes it back while they recount ballots. A Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, also in Florida, accuses his Democratic foe of fraud and election theft. The Democratic candidate for Georgia governor refuses to concede, even though the vote totals against her are piling up.

Meanwhile, way out yonder in Arizona, two candidates fought long and hard for a U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Jeff Flake, who didn’t seek re-election. It came down to counting mail-in ballots. The Democrat, U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, won by a narrow margin. The Republican, fellow Rep. Martha McSally, did the noble thing and conceded. She wished her opponent “success.” The fight was over.

Oh, but wait. McSally might have an ulterior motive in showing such grace. Do not misunderstand me. I applaud her for taking the path she took.

GOP Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey might be appointing a successor to Sen. Jon Kyl, whom Ducey appointed to succeed the late John McCain in the Senate, Kyl might not want to serve the full term. He might retire from the Senate yet again; he served there once already.

McSally might be positioning herself for an appointment. That’s the buzz out west. Whatever the motive, McSally’s quiet and dignified concession — juxtaposed to what we’re witnessing back east — is a refreshing thing to witness.